The New Plan to Connect Downtown Brooklyn to Its Waterfront

The "Brooklyn Strand" covers blocks cleared for expressways and parks in the 20th Century. Map: WXY Architecture [PDF]
The “Brooklyn Strand” seeks to improve walking and biking connections in an area cut up by highway ramps in the 1930s. Map: WXY Architecture
Starting in the 1930s, entire city blocks in Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, and DUMBO were razed for expressways and parks. Today, this jumble of on-ramps and disconnected green space separates Brooklyn’s waterfront from its downtown core. A new public-private initiative, called “The Brooklyn Strand,” seeks to knit these disjointed areas back together.

On Monday evening, Claire Weisz of WXY Architecture + Urban Design presented the design [PDF] to the Brooklyn Community Board 2 parks committee, Curbed reports. The project is a joint effort of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Brooklyn Bridge Park, the Mayor’s Office, the Parks Department, and the Department of City Planning.

The plan recommends turning a quiet block of Cadman Plaza East into a pedestrian plaza. Image: WXY Architecture
The plan recommends pedestrianizing a lightly-trafficked block of Cadman Plaza East. Image: WXY Architecture

The plan has been in the works for a year and builds on other initiatives already underway, like bicycle and pedestrian improvements in DUMBO and near the Brooklyn Bridge entrance at the intersection of Tillary and Adams Streets. It also echoes many of the public space proposals from Transportation Alternatives and the Brooklyn Tech Triangle strategic plan.

The Brooklyn Strand proposal recommends replacing the parking lot between Borough Hall and Adams Street with an underground garage topped by a plaza, reclaiming space from cars in front of the General Post Office building, and adding new bike lanes, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

Washington Street would become a pedestrian-priority street where the stairway to the Brooklyn Bridge path meets ground level. Image: WXY Architecture
Washington Street would become a pedestrian-priority street where the stairway to the Brooklyn Bridge path meets ground level. Image: WXY Architecture

The plan would also improve walking connections to the Brooklyn Bridge in DUMBO, creating a pedestrian-priority street where the stairs to the bridge touch down on Washington Street. Space beneath the bridge could be converted to retail use.

Parks and disconnected green spaces along the Brooklyn Queens Expressway east of the Manhattan Bridge will host events and installations from artist group Superflex starting next month. Long-term, the plan calls for better walking and biking connections between all of those spaces.

  • greggzuk

    Looks like a great next step. How about working with a responsible pedicab operator such as to add sponsored complimentary pedicab rides within the district?

  • Ben_Kintisch

    It’s a beautiful proposal. One big piece of this is addressing the problem of “where do you go when you’re done walking across the Brooklyn Bridge?” This plan gives a better option for those who arrive to the borough (visitors and New Yorkers alike) rather than being dumped in a nasty traffic sewer.
    Hopefully a unified approach like this can create enhanced bike connections to both of these East River bridges.
    Considering current and future bike traffic, we definitely need new and improved approaches to the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.

  • Ethan Kent

    An early vision, and additional ideas, for #BrooklynStrand:

  • Cold Shoaler

    “Considering current and future bike traffic, we definitely need new and improved approaches to the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.” We also need to take bikes off of the pedestrian walkway of the Brooklyn bridge and dedicate space for them on the road deck. There is no room for growth for ped and bike volume on the current infrastructure.

    This is a beautiful vision, but the bridges and Manhattan side of the East River need to be thought through as well.

  • Richard Garey

    In the Bronx, there has been discussion for some time with regard to capping the Cross Bronx and creating our own “Strand”. The questions are: (1) Who pays for it? (2) Who has the political will to make it happen?

  • Lee Haber

    Are there plans to remove the BQE because that would be nice?


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